The Power of Now had been on my “to-read” list for years when, by a stroke of fate, a dear friend offered to lend me her audio copy. Based on my general understanding of the book and its content (prior to reading it) I felt that I would enjoy it; however, I was completely unprepared for the way that the book would speak to me, transform my perspective, and change my life.
The Unreal Past & Future
In The Power of Now, we learn that to live in the future or the past is to suffer. The only way to exist in true harmony is to live in the now. After all, the past is not real, the future is not real. The past and the future only exist in our minds.
When I first heard this concept I refused to believe or comprehend it. Of course my past is real, I thought. Of course my future is real, too. How dare someone suggest that it is not? My ego lashed out; but then I thought more about it. I listened, opened my mind, and realized that it was true. I am going to ask you to walk through an exercise with me to help you understand.
Let’s recall a memory in which you are eating something. Let’s say, for example, it’s a hot summer day and you’re licking an ice cream cone. Now, where ever you are—right now, present moment, not in the memory—I’d like you to stick your finger right into the ice cream and then throw it to the floor. Can you do that? Can you touch that ice cream cone from your memory? No, of course you can’t (unless you’re on hallucinogenics but that’s another story).
The fact is that right now you can not touch that ice cream cone and therefore it is not real. It may seem real in your memory—in your mind—but it is not really “real”…not here, not now, not in existence. It is only a memory and it only exists in your mind.
This principle is also true for the future. Imagine any future scenario in your mind. You win the lottery. You get fired from your job. You purchase a house. You fall off of a cliff. You can play each of those scenes out in your head. You can fill in as much detail as you like. You can mentally experience the future, but the truth remains that the future scenario isn’t “real”. You can’t actually reach out and touch anything in the future right now. The future only exists in your mind.
When I finally grasped this concept I was shocked & amazed. It seems simple, but somehow I had been missing it for my entire life! To me, the past and the future were as real as the present. The past happened to me. The future was going to happen to me. I held on to these concepts for dear life. But then I realized the truth… the past and the present are not that important. They’re not even real. They are only in my head.
You might be feeling a bit angry right now. (I know because I was at this point.) You might be thinking, How dare you claim that my past is not real? I’ve suffered, I’ve lived, I’ve triumphed, I’ve done X, Y, and Z. And my future, that is real too! I am going to do things 1, 2, 3, and so on!
Your Ego Feeds on the Past & Future
Well, my friend, I am not sorry to break it to you. That voice of anger is fueled by fear and the fear is coming from your ego.
For your entire life, your ego has been calling the shots. He rules you by fear—fear over your past and fear over your future. So long as you believe in the reality of your past and your future, your ego has control over you. It uses every thing that ever happened in the past against you. It uses everything that you hope to happen in the future against you.
There is only one way to overcome your ego and that is to live completely in the now. Let go of the past and the future. Be fully present in this moment.
It is not easy. You’ve spent your entire life ruled by your ego, living in the past and present. But while it’s not easy, it is possible. It’s entirely possible for you to begin living entirely in the present moment, entirely in peace, love, & light, entirely free from the chains of your ego.
The Power of Now is an excellent book and if you truly listen to every word and practice its teachings in your daily life, you will succeed. It has been quite a journey for me already and I’ve only been on it for a few weeks now! I am experiencing life in ways that I never dreamed possible. You can do it, too.
Here are some of my favourite pieces from The Power of Now along with my interpretations of each.
You have it already. You just can’t feel it because your mind is making too much noise.
Eckhart Tolle tells us that that many people ask him to “give” them his gift. His response is always the same, You already have it.
This is entirely true. Each of us already has the immense power of now within. Tolle nor anyone else can “give” that to us—but what he can do (and does in the book) is to show you how to harness the power in your own life.
Not to be able to stop thinking is a dreadful affliction; but we don’t realize it because almost everyone is suffering from it. So, it is considered normal.
After reading (listening to) The Power of Now, I realized that yes, the modern human being is suffering from a debilitating disease: compulsive over thinking.
It is so obvious to me now! How many millions of people are suffering from anxiety, depression, and so on? Most of these individuals are suffering as such simply because of compulsive over thinking.
When we stop our compulsive, ego-driven thoughts, we live in harmony. Sadly, however, most people just don’t know how to stop those thoughts.
We must become the silent observer, as Tolle describes in the book. The first step to overcoming the compulsive thoughts is to recognize them, to be the silent observer of your mind.
To see, but not see. To hear, but not hear.
Have you ever had a moment, an hour, or a day where you were entirely mindless?
For example, you are driving along the road completely spaced out from reality and suddenly you “wake up” and you don’t know where your head has been for some stretch of time. You know that you must have been seeing and aware, because you didn’t crash your vehicle. But you weren’t really there. You were seeing but not seeing.
Another example, you are in conversation with a friend or loved one and you begin zoning out. You hear words coming out of her mouth, but when she finally stops talking, you realize that you have no idea what she just said. You were listening, but you weren’t really there. You were hearing but not hearing.
This is what it means to see, but not see; to hear, but not hear. It is living life in an unconscious state, on autopilot. Most likely you are daydreaming about the unreal past or future. You can overcome this state of nothingness and time wasting by harnessing the power of now and being fully present in each moment.
Humanity is under great pressure to evolve because it is the only chance for the survival of our species.
“Humanity is under great pressure to evolve because it is our only chance of survival as a race. This will affect every aspect of your life and close relationships in particular. Never before have relationships been as problematic and conflict ridden as they are now. As you may continue to pursue the goal of salvation through a relationship, you will be disillusioned again and again. But if you accept that the relationship is here to make you conscious instead of happy, then the relationship will offer you salvation, and you will be aligning yourself with the higher consciousness that wants to be born into this world. For those who hold to the old patterns, there will be increasing pain, violence, confusion, and madness.”
I could write ten posts about The Power of Now and I would only begin to scratch the surface. The book is extremely intensive. Tolle’s language is thick and weighted with meaning. The content is formatted as question and answer for the sake of clarity—but it is still heavy reading. As I mentioned earlier, I listened to the audio book and I would highly recommend this format. I have heard that reading the text can be confusing and I can understand why.
The audio book does span several hours, but it is entirely worth every moment. If you can not afford to buy the audio book, you should consider borrowing it from your local library.
If you decide to read or have read this book, I would love to hear your thoughts. Whether or not you decide to, I hope that you will consider the ideas that I have shared in this post.
Thinking about being somewhere else uses up your precious, present moments. Be here now. —Wayne Dyer